Gillard expected to lead charge for Western Warriors

Dave Kearsey
Published on April 2, 2015
Deer Lake Red Wings’ Jolena Gillard, right, and Stephenville Jets’ Olivia Henley race for the loose puck during a provincial bantam C hockey tournament at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake in this April 2014 file photo.
Star file photo

She’s fast, crafty and knows how to finish.

Jolena Gillard of Deer Lake has worked hard to become one of the best female hockey players in the province so she knows she will have to lead the charge in the quest for gold.

She will be wearing the C on her jersey when the Western Warriors serve as the Newfoundland  and Labrador representative for the 2015 Atlantic AAA Bantam Female Hockey Championship this weekend in Paradise.

Wearing the provincial colours is something Gillard is anxiously awaiting to unfold.

“It’s just a good feeling, especially when you’re on the ice and you know you are being videotaped and half of Newfoundland is watching you,” Gillard said Wednesday before hitting the road for Paradise.

The Warriors earned the right to be the provincial representative after winning silver on the provincial level earlier this year. Gillard and company had to settle for silver after a 2-0 loss to the St. John’s Ice Breakers in the final, but since the Ice Breakers are the host for the event the second-place team automatically got a berth as the provincial representative.

Gillard knows the competition will be tough because she played against some of the players in Moncton last summer. But, she believes hockey is a game where anything can happen and she expects the girls to give a good account of themselves.

She knows she will have to do what she does best  — score goals and create chances — to play a key role.

She also has to be a leader so will be there to support her teammates when they get down or make a mistake.

Shooting pucks on net is something he hopes the team will do more of when the tournament opens today. She believes the girls are anxious to play and want to work hard every shift with hopes of things going their way.

She’s not afraid of the challenge that comes with being a go-to girl with so much on the line.

“If I just play the way I can play I’m sure I’ll do fine,” she said.

Gillard has to find the scoring touch that has made her a threat over the past couple of years. She actually had the option of joining the Western Warriors AAA midget squad in Moncton for the Atlantic tournament but she wanted to stick with her own team knowing she has three years to play in the midget bracket.

Winning medals at an elite level of hockey is a big challenge for Newfoundland and Labrador teams, but Gillard has a lotof faith in her teammates so she don’t rule out being the suprise team in the mix.

“Our team works really hard and they have the mindset to win gold, and when they put their mind to it they always do it,” she said.

Hockey is life for Gillard. It’s the one thing that motivates her to push herself to the limit. It’s a safe bet the opposition will be looking to keep her off the scoresheet.